Throughout the first half of the 2016 season, something has been strangely disappearing that has been critical to Paul Johnson’s past successes as head coach of Georgia Tech: time of possession. If the season ended today, Tech would finish with the lowest average time of possession since Johnson’s hiring back in 2008 (per the AJC), a disappointing development in what has become an equally disappointing stretch of this season. The same is true for average possessions per game, which is down this season despite the 2016 offense looking markedly better than its 2015 counterpart so far. The origins of that issue can probably be traced back to the struggles of the defense (which do exist despite the opinions of a certain non-Ken AJC contributor), as Ted Roof’s unit has struggled to force both turnovers and punts. Three-and-outs are more of a necessity than a luxury in college football unless one’s aim is to play in twelve shootouts per year. Tech needs to force a few more in order to give the offense a better shot.
ESPN has some interesting second-half predictions for the ACC, foreseeing a couple more wins for the conference over the stumbling Notre Dame Fighting Irish and a Clemson playoff berth among other things. There should be no argument with the Notre Dame point given how awful the 2-5 Irish have looked so far this season; Miami and Virginia Tech should taken care of business. On the Clemson front, the Tigers did themselves a massive favor by taking care of business against Louisville a couple of weeks back to all but guarantee themselves a playoff berth if they manage to win out. Perhaps my favorite prediction of all is that the ACC will go 4-0 versus its end-of-season SEC rivals, a feat which would include a Tech win in Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. Louisville and Clemson should blow out Kentucky and South Carolina, respectively, while Tech has a decent chance against a struggling UGA team. Florida State will have its hands full with Florida this time around despite owning the series in recent years, but the Gators’ persistent lack of an offense could cause trouble.
For the ACC’s new coaches, success during the 2016 season largely goes far beyond just winning football games. The likes of Dino Babers at Syracuse and Justin Fuente at Virginia Tech have been tasked with rebuilding programs that have largely fallen from relevance, working diligently to repair certain damages that have been done by a number of years of (relative) mediocrity. This is even true for a few of the ACC’s more tenured coaches, including Boston College’s Steve Addazio and even Paul Johnson, who must continue improving the state of their respective programs with seemingly little to no support. We’ve seen that struggle go on here at Tech for years, but Johnson’s comments have really brought the issue to the forefront over the past couple of weeks. There’s no telling if or when that will change, but nothing at all will happen if everyone ignores it.
Have a great Thursday!